Community is heart of Garrison & heart of GAIA

Submitted Photo Lindsay Bofenkamp is the coordinator of the Garrison Area Improvement Association, an organization that strives to keep Garrison the thriving and bustling town that it is.

GARRISON – The Garrison Area Improvement Association (GAIA) is fervently passionate about the city of Garrison and its residents.

It realizes that small business is the heart of a healthy small town, and wish to see its residents succeed in their local business ventures as it only strengthens the community. GAIA is striving to keep Garrison as the thriving, bustling, wonderful small town that it is, and to only further its growth with our business start-up and expansion assistance services. The GAIA holds Garrison dear, and we want to keep it as a jewel of the prairie! We’re hooked on Garrison!

The Garrison Area Improvement Association was created by the for-profit corporation known as the Garrison Industrial Development Corporation in January 1992. The Garrison Industrial Development Corporation saw the potential value of Garrison creating a nonprofit organization to focus on economic and community development, and thus the GAIA was formed.

As its mission states: “The mission of the Garrison Area Improvement Association is to create an environment that will aid the retention and expansion of existing businesses within the community and encourage the development and success of all area business. GAIA is a nonprofit economic development corporation dedicated to the progressive growth of Garrison and the surrounding area while maintaining an excellent quality of life.”

In summary, one of GAIA’s primary functions is to provide business assistance to startups, expansions, and re-locations to the Garrison Area. GAIA directly provides:

– Low Interest Loans

– Marketing Grants

– Business Improvement Grants

– Community Betterment Grants

– Student Loan Repayment Grants

– Employee Recruitment and Retention Assistance

Currently the GAIA continues to maintain the business revolving loan fund with a total of seven loans. Additionally, GAIA, along with Sales and Use funding, continues to support nine projects under the Flex PACE loan program.

This year the GAIA introduced two new competitive grant programs for the purpose of providing incentive and cost assistance for local businesses improvement and expansion, as well as for government or nonprofit construction or improvement to facilities that will improve the quality of services, recreation facilities, or other public use facilities in the Garrison area.

Recently, GAIA has aided with the improvement of Wilderness Park in the City of Garrison, helping to add a walking path and improve drainage for improved recreation opportunities. Additionally GAIA has facilitated bringing many indispensable businesses to town, such as Wilson Law Firm and the Garrison Veterinary Clinic.

GAIA functions for the benefit of the community. Community is the heart of Garrison and the heart of the GAIA. The GAIA would not exist if the Board of Directors didn’t care deeply for the people of Garrison, and the people are what make up this amazing community. And by encouraging a progressive business-supporting environment, we only benefit the people of the community of Garrison. Healthy local business equates to a healthy community.